Who Are We ?

I may have regaled these pages at some point about some work I did on behalf of the club in Zimbabwe’s second city Bulawayo in the mid 1990’s.
 I only remind you of this because the only other two clubs at that time who had any sort of presence in the townships in that beleaguered country were Leyton Orient and Coventry City. At that time County were on the verge of becoming a (now) Championship club, Coventry were an established top flight side and although Orient had finished bottom of the Endesleigh (remember them) 2nd Division, but were still an established Football League Club.

Fast Forward 22 years: As I write, County wrestle to exit the Conference North having endured 5 seasons of life outside the Football League. Coventry has fallen from the heights of British football to what we used to call Division 4 and Orient are making a valiant albeit heavily stacked fight against relegation from the Football League.

 The moral being – don’t try and help poor African football enthusiasts. I joke but of course the serious issue revolves around ownership, direction and of course finance. To explain all of that just in our case would consume too much time and paper and it’s already been done to death although it hardly feels any better years on.

My point though is about identity.

 Lincoln City, who you will recall came out of the Football League with us, look to return in the next few days. Their FA Cup exploits of course put them back in the collective spotlight but most of those headlines were predictably the same “ None League Lincoln beat ……….” The emphasis of virtually all of the perhaps lazy journalism, centred on Lincoln’s none league status. One of their supporters wrote an article somewhere and the basis of his jottings was that Lincoln were in fact not a none league club but a league club playing in none league football. Go debate! Clearly the tables don’t lie but did he have a point?

For those of us that have travelled a fair bit around Conference Grounds since we entered this level, Bromsgrove, Brackley and Bradford Park Avenue are clearly in terms of stadia light years away from us, Tranmere, Lincoln, and Wrexham. 

But are they the proper Conference grounds? – I am not going to discriminate between National and North/South levels although the position Darlington find themselves in fuels another debate.

Lovely stand....but 220 seats light!

 Ever since automatic relegation from League 2/Division 4 was triggered many established League clubs have dropped out. In the early days it was relatively routine to return pretty much instantly but as the game has become money concentric that rarely happens any more.

 As the Premier League has become a byword for greed, high level money/sponsorship/bloated agents/ etc that ideology has filtered down the pyramid. For every Fleetwood, Fylde or Crawley there is an army of none bankrolled clubs. For every ‘Salford’ project there is a struggling, groundless Worcester City. That’s life I guess, but going back to that image question where do we fit? 

As the old tired strap line “ a championship club only 8/9/10….. years ago recedes into memory, where do we fit ? We travel in our hundreds and more, our home gates exceed most League 2 and several League 1 clubs, we have a stadium fit for purpose several layers up but we are a part time regional football club.

At what point did Southport, Barrow or Workington give up on thinking themselves as Football League clubs? Is there a specific amount of time after which the rest of the world stops thinking of us as a former football league club?

I suppose whilst our attendances average nearer 4000 as opposed to the few hundred or so averaged at this level in my mind we will always be a big club at this level – not a league club (yet) but, ever the optimist those days will return sooner rather than later or not at all. 

The supporters will carry it along with the current on field management and Messrs Bellis and Co off it, just wait a while, it will happen ( honest).
Now follow the link to see the story behind this photo, in my story 2083 Part 2 from October 2013...... 


Adrian Caville



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